Whenever my dad would see me off at the door, even as grown as I was, he would always holler out to my driver, “be safe on the road, you have some precious cargo on board there” (pointing to me). It had become a family phrase he coined – one I remember him saying to me ever since I was small, as a signal to me to buckle up. When his grandkids came around, it was the same story that he would holler to their parents. Precious cargo, indeed- because he knew that a child depended on you to make the right decisions for their safety whilst on the road. And so, every time I strap my own little ones into their car seats, I can’t help but think, “my precious cargo”.
Therefore, no matter what the situation is at the time of securing them in their seats – flailing octopus arms and legs or tantrum supreme or even my then-baby screaming for the boob- my job as their parent is to make sure I was doing everything I could to keep my precious cargo safe should the worst ever happen.
But when I look around and see so many other little babies and children not being afforded the same “treatment”, I have to wonder, do their parents not think they are precious enough?
The levels of disbelief /crazy that set alight in my head each time I watch parents pack up their shiny slick cars with the latest and greatest baby gadgets, but fail to secure baby into a car seat – instead just prop her up on their lap – is sometimes crippling to me. In fact, there is a serious amount of restraint that it takes for me to not act out on the sheer frustration I have of whenever I see a poor little child freely roaming the backseat, playing between the two front seats. Or my particular “favourite”: sitting on the driver’s lap; All the while, those parents blissfully ignorant of the risks they have willingly chosen to put their children in, carry on as if nothing’s wrong.
I am sure many of you have also felt it while witnessing these particular kinds of parental negligence, you know, that acute need to colourfully “inform” these parents of their douchbaggery? But I’ve learnt to bite my lip.
Not because it’s a social evil that I need to get used to, but because I know my frustrated words (or fists) flung at them right then would be pointless; That the acts of my frustration in the moment would accomplish nothing. That a person ignorant enough to fail to comply with safety rules for the sake of their own flesh and blood, would probably fail to want to see the logic of my words if I were to react to them right there. So yes, even whilst horribly tempting, sheer blunt force is not always the way to go. But still, this irresponsible behaviour is not acceptable.
Why, despite the horrying statistics, does the notion that “it won’t happen to me”, still persist? This “untouchable” mind-set, that is a complete disconnect from the reality of the dangers and risks that they are imposing on their children, has to be tackled. And whilst my emotional-in-the-moment response may not do the job as well as I’d wish it to, I cannot accept that nothing at all can be done to change the current mind set of so many parents in our country. Something needs to be done. In fact, it is time that something must be done.
It has often made me feel so helpless whenever I’ve witnessed it – on the highway, at the shopping mall, even at my own child’s school parking lot. That little one has no say in it all, and depends soley on the discretion of their parents/guardians/driver to ensure their safety. But you know what? I hate that feeling of helplessness – one of the worst feelings in the world to me, but fortunately it somehow also eggs me on to find a way to no longer feel helpless. So surely, if not their parents, then someone has to stand up for their safety, right?
Wouldn’t you? I would. And I am. And thanks to local Cape Town mom, Mandy Lee Miller. of Pregnant in Cape Town and ever after, who boldly took that first step forward, something is being done. In doing so, she has provided a channel for us all to make the difference through her creation of the #CarseatFullstop campaign That includes you, my dear reader!
I want to be a part of this campaign to help be a voice that would trigger true introspection about the matter, and appeal to the intellect and heart of every parent out there, so as to create this shift in mind set by their own volution. A mind set that is not only one of compliance, but one which is proactively safety concerned. A mind set that would actively seek out safer options for their children no matter what. And furthermore, in spreading this consciousness, hopefully create a better ecosystem of car seat safety within our society. Because owning a car seat is not all there is to it. There is an entire support structure and collective mentality in our community that is needed to make the real change. A change that is sustainable, and one that would make car seat safety awareness and proficiency a true social norm in our country.
I want to be a part of this change, because I believe it is possible. Whether it’s to the benefit of one child or thousands – a difference can be made. Precious lives– precious cargo – can be saved.
So, want to be a part of it? Of course you do! Wondering how you can get involved? Well now, here’s a start:
-Sign up for their Newsletter and stay informed – it’s so quick and painless, just do it!
-Follow social feeds – Even if you’re not a social media person, I’m appealing to you to just be one for this campaign. This is a cause that is worth the effort of your extra clicks. Follow them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, follow them on Instagram here, and follow them on Google+.
-Share information – I cannot stress this one enough. PLEASE share whatever content of the campaign with your circle of family,friends and loved ones. Even more so if you feel moved or more informed by the content. Because if it could change your mind, and possiby your friend’s mind, think of the potential collective effect it could have if we all shared it. You have the power to help save a life. Yes, it’s that dramatic, because don’t for once be fooled into thinking that car seats are merely just for overprotective parents who worry too much. Hell, no! Car seats are used to provide your child -your baby- with a better chance of survival should they ever be involved in an accident. (Did you know that car seats reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71 % for infants and 54 % for toddlers? And yet only 15% of South African children in cars are restrained; leaving a whopping 85% of children who are not!!! That’s just mental, right?) But not many know or understand that. And that’s as scary as the stats itself! So please, spread the word and help create the change that is needed.
But, why do I care so much, “it’s not my child”, I may hear you ask. Well, as a parent my heart strings automatically extend to the next child I see. I see them in the same light as I would my own. These littles are so vulnerable and innocently depend on us as thinking adults to shelter them from harm. The pangs of potential heartbreak and panic that could result from neglience in car seat safety for one child hits me just as hard as if it was my very own child there. As a parent, the risks and possibilities of that negligence to me are unthinkable, and I could never wish that kind of pain on any other parent who would then sit with that weight of regret for the rest of their lives. Especially when it’s so easily preventable.
Our children, all our children are precious cargo, and are beautiful precious gifts that I know no parent would willingly wish any ill upon. So let’s get informed, let’s spread the awareness and create a sustainable change that will help put a stop to the senseless and preventable deaths of our precious cargo.
#CarseatFullstop is sponsored by Volvo Cars.